View Full Version : Kobold Quarterly Map of Fantasy: Bandits' Lair

05-14-2009, 02:04 PM
So I've been quiet with commissions recently, but they're slowly coming through to a stage where I can post them. I'm doing maps of fantasy (like the old Maps of Mystery from Dungeon) for Kobold Quarterly (www.koboldquarterly.com) and this one was for the April edition. Here's the isometric map that appeared in the magazine:


I also did a top down version for the printable pdf battlemap that they sell on the site (http://www.koboldquarterly.com/KQStore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=44)

Here's a low res (50px per grid) version of that map. The pdf has no numbers on it of course. Top floor:


and the bottom floor:



05-14-2009, 02:10 PM
Wow, great work Torstan, have some rep!
I really, really like the first map. I am almost regretting that you didn't do the furniture in isometric view :)

The other two maps are also very well done.

05-14-2009, 02:14 PM
Isometric furniture certainly comes under the heading of something that would have been nice but was not feasible given the time constraints and money paid for the map.

For those of you following the tileset thread - all the furnishings of the bandit's lair (even the cat) made it into the tileset for maptool as separate png objects.

05-14-2009, 02:16 PM
I agree, they are all great but that first one is amazing. :)

Steel General
05-14-2009, 04:47 PM
Beautiful work Torstan...

05-14-2009, 04:54 PM
Dude, you're amazing. You kick so much arse that taking names has become irrelevant. Awesome stuff.

05-14-2009, 05:15 PM
Thanks guys! It was fun to do. I got to pitch the idea to the magazine, create the map and then I had Wolfgang Baur write the story behind the lair. Definitely a highlight for me. Just polished off the summer Map of Fantasy - something on a more Arabian Nights theme this time....

Oh, I thought I'd have a bit of fun so I threw the maps into maptool for fun:



Nothing like a bit of isometric maptool goodness (just use iso tokens and turn off snap to grid - or place a hex map over it. Works just fine.).

Edit: 4 pips! Woot.

05-14-2009, 06:08 PM
The first map is ideal.

There is something really attractive about your style and treatment. After seeing the map, it supplants my ideal image of your subject. There's no little voice saying "this is what's really happening". Just lovely.

Was all the Iso stuff done in Gimp? Did you do the original and then rotate it or was it all by your eye and the seat of your pants?


05-14-2009, 06:18 PM
Now that's quite a compliment!

It was all done in gimp. I drew the top down outline of the map - all the walls essentially. Then I rotated it and scaled it vertically, and did the same with a grid layer. Then I chopped the map up where the elevation changes and moved those sections up and down to get the height differences and drew in the connecting stairways by hand. That gave me the outlines and allowed me to set up the floor and wall masks I needed. Then I detailed with the pen tool before colouring the map. It was interesting, and actually a lot easier than I had expected. I've got a few of this style to do for a new open design project so this was a great chance to pin down the workflow for an isometric map.

I love the fact that you get the chance to do a lot more with light and shade in an iso map. I wish I could have spent more time on the cliffs, and also on the furnishings - but real life has time constraints unfortunately.

05-14-2009, 06:34 PM
Torstan this is beautiful!!! I would love it if you could you detail your cartograpic life into how you got commissions. It would inspire our members I think.

05-14-2009, 07:07 PM
Wow. This is truly amazing! I love a good iso map, and this is a great one. I have to admit, my favorite part is that you can follow the water from where it enters to cavern to where it exits, and how the waterfall's used to help illustrate the height difference between the two levels.

05-14-2009, 08:01 PM
Sweet work man. What artistic talent can do with a tablet... :P

05-15-2009, 04:19 AM
Cool! I wish Paizo would hire you, their maps could really use your kinda talent.

05-15-2009, 09:45 AM
If you tell them, I won't stop you :)

@Loogie: Thanks! It really was the tablet that made all the difference with my map drawing.

@Novarri: Thanks - that's actually inspired by an old AD&D book. It was one of the blue books and it detailed dungeons? Anyway there was an isometric cave complex in it with a waterfall going through the caves and you could really se how it had hollowed out the cave system over time. The waterfall did a great job of connecting the different levels. I like it here because it gives the players two different ways to attack the bandit's lair.

@Ravells: Thanks. I had a lot of fun nailing down this style and you'll certainly be seeing more of these in the future. As for how I got into this, I guess there were a couple of big things that made it possible. First: try living on a small academic salary in NYC. Fail. Second: turn to hobbies to make extra cash. Necessity really is the mother of invention. It might be worth a tutorial on getting your work seen and picking up commissions? I certainly don't claim to be any sort of expert on this, but I am now picking up a steady and predictable income from this.

05-15-2009, 04:50 PM
That's because your stuff rocks, sure some of the more ambitious people can get out there and sell sell sell but if you don't have the portfolio to back it up then it's all for naught. Continued good luck to you my friend.

12-04-2009, 03:15 PM
This is a beautiful map. The ISO perspective is fantastic and like another commentor already mentioned, the fact that you can trace the water through the caverns is really great. I plan on using this in an upcoming adventure--needed a "lair" and this will be perfect!


12-04-2009, 07:16 PM
haha, that map was in my inspiration-folder already for several months... and made me wanne do ISO's too.... didn't know it was yours ;) awesome map!

12-05-2009, 12:06 AM
Beautiful maps!

12-06-2009, 01:46 PM
Thought I had commented here but I guess not. These are stunningly beautiful!

12-07-2009, 11:17 AM
Nice to see this one turn up again. Thanks all for the compliments. It was a lot of fun to do. I'm very pleasantly surprised to find my map in Djekspeak's inspiration folder!

12-07-2009, 02:12 PM
Weird. Didn't even notice that someone had performed threadomancy on this one...thought it was new. The nice thing about resurrecting threads around here is that it gives people the chance to see amazing stuff that they might have missed. Not at all like the dead-horse beating that gets re-energized by threadomancy on some other boards!

12-07-2009, 04:35 PM

That map is super-impressive. I would love to know what your work flow is for making a map like that. Do you actually model it in 3d and then export an image to work up in photoshop/GIMP? Or is it actually just a carefully measured 2d drawing?

Is there a tutorial on isometric mapping either made or recommended by you?

I'm repping you to a clean 500!

12-07-2009, 06:28 PM
I never did put together a tute for that one. In fact it was my first iso map!

The workflow was to create the top down plan of the dungeon. I then rotated each layer by 45 degrees and shrank the (new) vertical axis to 57.7% of it's original value. That made it the correct dimensions for an iso grid.

With the floorplans laid out I then went into the vertical details. They were added free hand. After the line work was done I went in to colour and shade it, but that's relatively quick with the structure laid down well. Hope that answers the question, and thanks for the rep!

12-07-2009, 07:45 PM
Yeah, that pretty much answers my question. But I guess I'm also curious as to what programs you used.

I'm new here, and I'm trying to get a feel for which software people are using to make which kinds of maps. So far, this is one of my absolute favourites, and definitely one I would like to try to emulate in the next little while.

Also, do you find it's necessary to use a tablet to do the kind of work you do, or do you work mainly with a mouse?


12-07-2009, 07:59 PM
This was done in Gimp, with a tablet. I find that a tablet makes a huge difference. I've been using the smallest and cheapest wacom - a little 4 by 6 graphire4. They are great and I can't recommend it highly enough. The modern equivalent is a bamboo.

I now use photoshop, but the basic workflow is the same. The lines are done on one layer and then the colours on successive separate layers.

12-07-2009, 09:45 PM
This map is great, good work my friend! I recently did a map similar to this for Paizo but it was of a massive mountain fast. It was however much more of an "Artistic" piece than a functional map, but the 3d isometric view is shared. Again, very good work, though my favorite map of yours so far is the "Iron Crag Cantons", it is quite exceptional:)